Dr. Mike Essig

CHANGING THE NAME

Thank you for taking the time to read my commentaries and opinions. To be honest, when Jeannie asked me to write for G&L, my first thought was what would I write about? And would anyone find a long article about the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs interesting to read about magazine after magazine? For shame if you said you wouldn’t find that interesting. Instead, I thought it would be far less outlandish to take this time to discuss the very name of our profession, Information Technology.

Back in the days of yore (i.e. the 1980s), a personal computer appeared on some desk in the accounting office immediately requiring some other person to be available to answer a password reset call. Instead of calling that person’s new department, “the computer department,” the term “Management Information Systems” was created – and so began the MIS department. As

computers and demands on MIS increased, it became apparent that more people than just management were using the computer systems, and somewhere along the way, the M in MIS was dropped in favor of simply calling the computer department “IS,” or “Information Systems.” One could say that as MIS transformed into IS, the department became more than a support department and more of a component of operations. In the late 90s, companies began to recognize the IS department as more than just systems. The progressive ones changed the name from IS to Information Technology (IT) and from there our profession has been mislabeled for over a decade.

While the IT name is almost universally utilized, I suggest the name is no longer accurate. Each IT leader reading this article (or skimming it), will nod sagely when I point out their department is involved in far more than simply information. Computers, data lines, TVs, audio/visual, mobile devices, Windows updates, cloud computing, IoT, artificial intelligence, application updates and patch management are many of the areas technologists find themselves working. Others are involved in lighting, parking systems, fire control, telephones and energy management. While one may argue, “Mike, it takes information to run a telephone,” I will tell you, we are the Technology department because we do far more than just information. We are, and should be, called the Technology department.

This change is not going to be without challenges – partly because many end users will be hard pressed to spell technology correctly without the use of Microsoft’s auto-correct function – but primarily because the term IT is so ubiquitous in its use. Changing the name will need to start within the Technology department followed closely by HR. We must acknowledge that we are Technology professionals – not IT professionals – not only by words, but by job titles. The arduous process of changing how Technology is referred to in the organization starts with renaming documentation (taking the IT out and putting Technology in). For example, the commonplace, “IT Change Request Form,” will need to be renamed. Another major hurdle I foresee will be the large variety of governing bodies in every jurisdiction. Anyone who has attempted to change a Minimum Internal Control (MIC) knows updating a single internal code description or process can be a challenge. Rewriting the entire Technology section to update our new name will likely result in bureaucratic hysteria. One of the positives of regulations being so pervasive? By making the change at the regulation level, changing IT to Technology in the regulations should expedite the new department designation.

As the Technology department, it is incumbent upon each of us to make this change to truly describe our responsibilities within our organizations. Our department has moved far beyond the computer break/fix model and now ensures information is secure/accurate/available and is omnipresent throughout a business.

In addition to data, Technology handles some obvious non-information items such as hardware, software updates or upgrades and networking. Less obvious non-information items may include PBX switches, cell phones, digital signage, door security systems, audio/visual systems or automatic curtain controls. As IoT increases, there will be requests for Technology assistance. Consider the gardener’s watering hose. Tracking the amount of water used by a gardener could determine whether a particular exotic plant is receiving too little or too much water.

Excluding the aforementioned argle-bargle and foofaraw, think about my proposed name change from this perspective. A person doesn’t call Casino Security, they call Security. It is not Hotel PBX, but PBX, and I have never called Casino Facilities when the A/C failed in the data center. I called Facilities. There are going to be challenges, primarily for the Technology leader as the CIO title is commonly considered the top position in Technology. Again, as I refer to other divisions, there is a noticeable lack of Chief Casino Marketing officer positions, but CMOs abound. Controversial? Indeed. But Technologists should be recognized for their overall skillset. Change your email signature to what you truly are: director, manager or Le Grande Fromage of Technology. Join the revolution!

Your feedback and input is much appreciated. If you have feedback or questions about this column or would like to see a specific item discussed, please email me at mike.essig@pngaming.com. I look forward to interacting with my Technology colleagues in this column. The views of this article are solely Dr. Mike’s and do not and are not associated with or represent the views of any employer past or present.

Thank you for taking the time to read my commentaries and opinions. To be honest, when Jeannie asked me to write for G&L, my first thought was what would I write about? And would anyone find a long article about the 2016 World Champion Chicago Cubs interesting to read about magazine after magazine? For shame if you said you wouldn’t find that interesting. Instead, I thought it would be far less outlandish to take this time to discuss the very name of our profession, Information Technology.

Back in the days of yore (i.e. the 1980s), a personal computer appeared on some desk in the accounting office immediately requiring some other person to be available to answer a password reset call. Instead of calling that person’s new department, “the computer department,” the term “Management Information Systems” was created – and so began the MIS department. As computers and demands on MIS increased, it became apparent that more people than just management were using the computer systems, and somewhere along the way, the M in MIS was dropped in favor of simply calling the computer department “IS,” or “Information Systems.” One could say that as MIS transformed into IS, the department became more than a support department and more of a component of operations. In the late 90s, companies began to recognize the IS department as more than just systems. The progressive ones changed the name from IS to Information Technology (IT) and from there our profession has been mislabeled for over a decade.

While the IT name is almost universally utilized, I suggest the name is no longer accurate. Each IT leader reading this article (or skimming it), will nod sagely when I point out their department is involved in far more than simply information. Computers, data lines, TVs, audio/visual, mobile devices, Windows updates, cloud computing, IoT, artificial intelligence, application updates and patch management are many of the areas technologists find themselves working. Others are involved in lighting, parking systems, fire control, telephones and energy management. While one may argue, “Mike, it takes information to run a telephone,” I will tell you, we are the Technology department because we do far more than just information. We are, and should be, called the Technology department.

This change is not going to be without challenges – partly because many end users will be hard pressed to spell technology correctly without the use of Microsoft’s auto-correct function – but primarily because the term IT is so ubiquitous in its use. Changing the name will need to start within the Technology department followed closely by HR. We must acknowledge that we are Technology professionals – not IT professionals – not only by words, but by job titles. The arduous process of changing how Technology is referred to in the organization starts with renaming documentation (taking the IT out and putting Technology in). For example, the commonplace, “IT Change Request Form,” will need to be renamed. Another major hurdle I foresee will be the large variety of governing bodies in every jurisdiction. Anyone who has attempted to change a Minimum Internal Control (MIC) knows updating a single internal code description or process can be a challenge. Rewriting the entire Technology section to update our new name will likely result in bureaucratic hysteria. One of the positives of regulations being so pervasive? By making the change at the regulation level, changing IT to Technology in the regulations should expedite the new department designation.

As the Technology department, it is incumbent upon each of us to make this change to truly describe our responsibilities within our organizations. Our department has moved far beyond the computer break/fix model and now ensures information is secure/accurate/available and is omnipresent throughout a business.

In addition to data, Technology handles some obvious non-information items such as hardware, software updates or upgrades and networking. Less obvious non-information items may include PBX switches, cell phones, digital signage, door security systems, audio/visual systems or automatic curtain controls. As IoT increases, there will be requests for Technology assistance. Consider the gardener’s watering hose. Tracking the amount of water used by a gardener could determine whether a particular exotic plant is receiving too little or too much water.

Excluding the aforementioned argle-bargle and foofaraw, think about my proposed name change from this perspective. A person doesn’t call Casino Security, they call Security. It is not Hotel PBX, but PBX, and I have never called Casino Facilities when the A/C failed in the data center. I called Facilities. There are going to be challenges, primarily for the Technology leader as the CIO title is commonly considered the top position in Technology. Again, as I refer to other divisions, there is a noticeable lack of Chief Casino Marketing officer positions, but CMOs abound. Controversial? Indeed. But Technologists should be recognized for their overall skillset. Change your email signature to what you truly are: director, manager or Le Grande Fromage of Technology. Join the revolution!

Your feedback and input is much appreciated. If you have feedback or questions about this column or would like to see a specific item discussed, please email me at mike.essig@pngaming.com. I look forward to interacting with my Technology colleagues in this column. The views of this article are solely Dr. Mike’s and do not and are not associated with or represent the views of any employer past or present.

Dr. Mike has over 25 years of casino technology experience and 30 years working in hospitality. He started in technology as a vendor before working in various commercial, riverboat, and Native American casino organizations. He has been fortunate enough to be a part of property openings, mergers, expansions, and technology reorganizations. He holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Hospitality Management from UNLV and earned his doctorate in Organizational Management from Capella University. He is the Director of Technology for the Tropicana Hotel & Casino. It is a well-known fact that Mike is a Chicago Cubs fan. Contact Mike.